James Hill’s story is not unlike that of many tradies. He started an apprenticeship at the age of 15 and never looked back. He worked his way up to a supervisor role, trained at the gym nearly every day and spent his spare time on the beach or with his loved ones.
‘Everything was good,’ he says, ‘everything was picture perfect.’
But almost out of nowhere, his health began to deteriorate.
‘It didn’t happen overnight,’ he says. ‘I think I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t want to admit it, even to myself.’
James first noticed he was becoming increasingly fatigued when he began injuring himself at the gym. Soon, he was needing to sleep two or three times a day, even having to pull over for rest when driving.
Despite having no energy throughout the day, James was too restless to sleep at night. He says he spent most nights awake and worrying.
James had a number of blood tests and physical assessments, but says whenever the doctor asked about his mental health he would brush it off.
‘I was brought up old school, believing that you don’t talk about emotions, that it’s not a manly thing to do,’ James laughs, ‘it sounds so stupid now, saying it out loud, but that was my attitude!’
Then the negative self-talk began. ‘I’d think I wasn’t good enough of a leader for the job I was doing, I wasn’t training as hard as I could – really beating myself up internally – and then, I started drinking because that was a way of forgetting things.’